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Workplace Bill Targets Blame Not Safety

Gerry Brownlee National Accident Insurance Spokesperson

5 December 2001

Workplace bill targets blame not safety

The Government's proposed workplace law is pitched in the wrong direction and will have little impact on improving safety in New Zealand workplaces, says National's Accident Insurance spokesman, Gerry Brownlee.

The Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill was sent to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee today.

"Everyone want to see safer workplaces, but this Bill is going entirely the wrong way about it by concentrating on penalty provisions rather than safety issues," says Mr Brownlee.

"The vast majority of New Zealand workers are employed in small businesses, but the compliance costs associated with this Bill will send many of those businesses to the wall.

"This piece of legislation increases five-fold the penalties for breaches, with maximum fines of up to $500,000. This is grossly heavy-handed.

"Consider what could happen to volunteer organisations. This Bill redefines where a workplace is so if a person, for example, is injured while voluntarily delivering meals on wheels, the volunteer organisation is deemed responsible for the conditions of that workplace. This is simply unfair.

"Another issue is sick leave. Improved definitions of stress and fatigue in the workplace effectively mean that if this Bill is passed, there will be unlimited sick leave provisions in New Zealand workplaces.

"While some workplaces already choose to offer this, others would find it very difficult.

"National will not be supporting this Bill. We want to see safer workplaces, but this legislation is going the wrong way about it," says Mr Brownlee.

Ends


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